Category Archives: Week 9

Beloved

“Paul D made a few acquaintances; spoke to them about what work he might find. Sethe returned the smiles she got. Denver was swaying with delight. And on the way home, although leading them now, the shadows of three people still held hands.”

 

In this passage, we see that Paul D is trying to be apart of the community, and ultimately Sethe’s life. He is seen looking for work in the neighborhood and within the same chapter, he is being friendly to everyone he meets. Him being well acquainted with the community led to the community finally accepting Sethe and Denver.

One significant part of the passage I found was the relationship between Paul and Denver. Before the carnival, the community kind of ignored them. Denver didn’t have any friends, which led her to befriending the ghost at 124. Their ‘friendship’ came to an end when Paul D came to 124 and chased it away. This made Denver hate Paul D for taking away the only friend she had at the time. Fast forward to the night after the carnival, she seems to have found something likable in Paul, and doesn’t mind his company. Plus, him sort of ‘reintroducing’ the community to the family of 124 brought some attention to her and showed signs of her making friends in the future.

Sethe also got some positive feedback from everyone. The chapter ends with the three characters enjoying their company, which could have foreshadowed a bright future for the family, but that wasn’t the case, unfortunately, with the introduction to a girl named Beloved in the following chapter. It seems like this is the ‘feel-good’ moment, before the main conflict of the story.

 

Indolent

Indolent :  not liking to work or be active

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indolent

Used in “Beloved” on page 121 in the second paragraph

Where she was once indolent, resentful of every task, now she is spry, executing, even extending the assignments  Sethe leaves for them.

The word in the sentence is describing how she once felt lazy and unmotivated to do work.

Beloved, Week 9

The passage that stood out from the rest was the scene where Sethe was talking about the thieves that took her milk. In this scene Sethe explains that she was whipped before she ran from Sweet Home to meet Baby Suggs and her children, whom she had sent ahead, in Cincinnati. The white girl who helped deliver Denver said the resulting scars looked like a chokecherry tree and then Sethe cries and says that the men who beat her stole her baby’s milk before she ran. This seen was a very emotional, depressing and graphic depiction.

“I had milk,” she said. “I was pregnant with Denver but I had milk for my baby girl. I hadn’t stopped nursing her when I sent her on ahead with Howard and Buglar.”

Now she rolled the dough out with a wooden pin. “Anybody could smell me long before he saw me. And when he saw me he’d see the drops of it on the front of my dress. Nothing I could do about that. All I knew was I had to get my milk to my baby girl. Nobody was going to nurse her like me. Nobody was going to get it to her fast enough, or take it away when she had enough and didn’t know it. Nobody knew that she couldn’t pass her air if you held her up on your shoulder, only if she was lying on my knees. Nobody knew that but me and nobody had her milk but me. I told that
to the women in the wagon. Told them to put sugar water in cloth to suck from so when I got there in a few days she wouldn’t have forgot me. The milk would be there and I would be there with it.”

“Men don’t know nothing much,” said Paul D, tucking his pouch back into his vest pocket, “but they do know a suckling can’t be away from its mother for long.”

“Then they know what it’s like to send your children off when your breasts are full.” “We was talking ’bout a tree, Sethe.”
“After I left you, those boys came in there and took my milk.

That’s what they came in there for. Held me down and took it. I told Mrs. Garner on em. She had that lump and couldn’t speak but her eyes rolled out tears. Them boys found out I told on em. Schoolteacher made one open up my back, and when it closed it made a tree. It grows there still.

“They used cowhide on you?”

“And they took my milk.”

“They beat you and you was pregnant?” “And they took my milk!”

Beloved

In the novel Beloved, by Toni Morrison, the passage that stands out was when the character, Sethe, starts to reflect on events that happen to her in the past. She starts to explain herself using vague details. All her guilt and her pain is starting to grow inside, and it seems as if she cannot take it any longer. While her daughter Denver listens to her statement, she starts to condone her mother and tries to understand her mother’s predicament.

“Some things go. Pass on. Some things just stay. I used to think it was my rememory. You know. Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place– the picture of it–stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.” …Denver picked at her fingernails. “If it’s still there, waiting, that must mean that nothing ever dies.” Sethe looked right in Denver’s face. “Nothing ever does,” she said.

This short passage is important for many reasons. In other words, when someone dies, there are ones that find peace on the other side and there are ones who are left behind still traveling on earth. In the second to third line When Sethe says, “Some things you forget. Other things you never do.” I think Sethe means, there are times when a situation would happen that can be traumatizing that you would want to remember, so you try everything in your power to forget whatever the situation is, as if it never existed in the first place. There are times when things happen and someone wishes to stay connected to the memory and would never forget it, as if just happened recently. Sethe uses an example to explain how something can stay in your mind even if it is gone. When she says “when a house burn down,”  meaning that it does not exist anymore as an object, the memory of the house stays intact in her memory. Not only her memory but in the memories of other people that was evolved with the house, they would have their memory of the house. Sethe still thinks about the situation of the time she killed her daughter. The memory still remains with her. It doesn’t matter where she goes or what she does, she remembers what she has done clearly in her mind. When she is  there at the place where the situation has happened, she can replay the event happening in her head. As a result, they come to the conclusion that nothing never ever dies, they may live on spiritually or can be reincarnated.

 

Beloved, Week 9

“Paul D smiled then, remembering the bedding dress. Sethe was thirteen when she came to Sweet Home and already iron-eyed. She was a timely present for Mrs. Garner who had lost Baby Suggs to her husband’s high principles. The five Sweet Home men looked at the new girl and decided to let her be. They were young and so sick with the absence of women they had taken to calves. Yet they let the iron-eyed girl be, so she could choose in spite of the fact that each one would have beaten the others to mush to have her. It took her a year to choose–a long, tough year of thrashing on pallets eaten up with dreams of her. A year of yearning, when rape seemed the solitary gift of life. The restraint they had exercised possible only because they were Sweet Home men–the ones Mr. Garner bragged about while other farmers shook their heads in warning at the phrase.”

The passage that i picked is in chapter one where Paul D is remembering when Sethe first came to live with Mr. and Mrs. Garner after Baby Suggs has passed away.

The passage talks about how Sethe first came to live in the farm with the Garner family after Baby Suggs has passed away. The passage also talks about how the five men that also lived with the Garner which included Paul D first though of Sethe when they saw her for the first time. Since those five lived without the presence of any other female beside Mrs.Garner they did not know how to act towards Sethe, so they just let her do what she wanted. The five men also did not want to fight over who would fight over Sethe but instead waited till Sethe picked one of them on her own.

The passage is important in that it lets us know what Sethe went through after Baby Suggs passed away and how she lived in her early teen years. It also introduces some important characters like Mr. and Mrs. Garner, Paul D and the other 4 men who lived with her which one becomes her husband later on.

Gaiety

gaiety

: a happy and lively quality

plural gai·eties
1
:  merrymaking; also :  festive activity —often used in plural
2
:  high spirits :  merriment
3
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gaietyIn Beloved page 87 Paragraph 3

“She had felt warm satisfaction radiating from Beloved’s skin when she listened to her mother talk about the old days. But gaiety she had never seen.”
In this case I believe gaiety is the high spirits and merriment and lively quality of Beloved. This is a kind of happiness that Denver has never seen and this means a lot in a story talking about a time of slavery.

Ten minutes for seven letters

I want to choose the passage in the beginning of the story on page 5, paragraph 4, 5, and 6.

What stood out to me was the nonchalance air that the section had.

“Ten minutes for seven letters”. This stood out to me a lot because it is the first look at how much she loved her children. It never explicitly tells the reader what exactly this line means. But it is implied that she was willing to give the engraver ten minutes of sexual pleasure in exchange for the 7 letter of beloved to be engraved on her baby daughter’s tombstone. She was even willing to give another ten minutes or maybe even thirty in order to engrave the word Dearly as well.

She was counting on the stillness of her soul, as in she gave her soul away in order to provide and give something deserving to her daughter who had died at such a young age.

She knows that she has repressed her own soul to do this but the only thing she cared about was the soul of her daughter and how it may have raged her more. She believes that as long as her daughter comes and listens to her, she will understand how much Sethe really loves her daughter.

Another detail that explains that she’s lost her soul was how she kept referring to her knees being wide open like the ‘grave’. She was willing to lose a bit of herself to engrave those letters for her daughter because she truly was her beloved.

Something to think about: was she feeling guilty about killing her daughter even though she justifies it? Is she torturing herself to keep herself sane, staying in the house, succumbing to sexual advances of the engraver?

Another thing that crossed my mind when reading this passage is, what is her daughter’s real name? We know that Beloved is not her real name because it was something the preacher had read in the funeral that resonated with Sethe.

It brings to mind the lack of independence Africans had before and after the Civil War. Names are independent of each individual. When her daughter died, she is only referred to as beloved in the story and never by her actual birth name. I feel that beloved is a word of ownership. You have to be someone or something’s beloved. In this way, her daughter (in a way) will always be hers and will always stay with her.

 

Week 9, “Beloved”

“She and Mrs. Garner were the only women there, so she decided to ask her.

“Halle and me want to be married, Mrs. Garner.”

“So I heard.” She smiled. “He talked to Mr. Garner about it. Are you already expecting?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Well, you will be. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Halle’s nice, Sethe. He’ll be good to you.”

“But I mean we want to get married.”

“You just said so. And I said all right.”

“Is there a wedding?”

Mrs. Garner put down her cooking spoon. Laughing a little, she touched Sethe on the head, saying, “You are one sweet child.” And then no more.”

This passage is from page 31.

In this passage Sethe is asking Mrs. Garner for a wedding for herself and Halle. Mrs. Garner was the owner of Sweet Home and the slaves that worked there. She doesn’t seem to be too interested in what Sethe is asking for. She mentions that Halle is a good person for Sethe. When Sethe asks if there is a wedding, it’s clear that she wants to have a ceremony, but Mrs. Garner laughs and calls her a sweet child. She fails to take Sethe seriously, and calls her a child because of the fantasy that she desires. I think this is showing one thing in the life of a slave, you can’t get what you desire. From what I interpreted, Mrs. Garner, like any other slave owner, didn’t care for the slaves working in her home. She only asked Sethe if she was pregnant, which she wasn’t, and that she will have to get pregnant. This passage displays that concept of marriage among slaves, which was prohibited because they were thought to be obligated to their owners instead of to each other. Also, their children were to be taken away from them. This passage is significant because it shows that these people who were slaves had no free will. They couldn’t live how they wanted to live, and couldn’t live with the people they wanted to live with. Even their children were taken away from them.

Beloved

The passage I choose to reflect on is found in chapter one when Sethe first reunited with Paul D.

“I got a tree on my back and a haint in my house, and nothing in between but the daughter I am holding in my arms. No more running from nothing.  I will never run from another thing on earth.  I took one journey and I paid the ticket, but let me tell you something, Paul D Garner: It cost too much! Do you hear me?  It cost too much.  Now sit down and eat with us or leave us be.”

In this passage Sethe’s grief about her troubled life was on display to Paul D and her daughter Denver after Paul D suggested she move from the house at 124.   The tree on her back was the pattern of scars from whipping  she received while living as a slave at Sweet Home.   She was powerless in her home because the baby ghost who haunted her house could at any given time cause supernatural things to occur.  She said, “this haint my house,” in this manner to indicate the absurdity of the situation.  Between the sorrow of what was happening in her home and caring for her daughter Denver she had nothing else in between to look forward to.   Because she had a very bad experience when she ran away to be with her children, she was prepared to stay and face her problems rather than revisit the horrors she had endured when she first ran away.  She felt when she ran away the cost was too much, not in terms of money but in terms of the emotional and psychological problems that she encountered that was vividly imprinted in her memory.  Repeatedly telling Paul D, “it cost too much,” indicate that her statement has deeper meaning than money.  She gave him the ultimatum to sit down and eat or leave because she felt that she was the one who was  living in that terrible situation and was capable of knowing when to leave.

 

A Better Understanding of “Beloved”

The passage I want to get a better understanding is in Page 19-20. It states, “I had milk,” she said. “I was pregnant with Denver but I had milk for my baby girl. I hadn’t stopped nursing her when I sent her on ahead with Howard and Buglar…” “All I knew was I had to get my milk to my baby girl. Nobody was going to nurse her like me. Nobody was going to get it to her fast enough, or take it away when she had enough and didn’t know it. Nobody knew that she couldn’t pass her air if you held her up on your shoulder, only if she was lying on my knees. Nobody knew that but me and nobody had her milk but me. I told that to the women in the wagon. Told them to put sugar water in cloth to suck from so when I got there in a few days she wouldn’t have forgot me. The milk would be there and I would be there with it.” “Men don’t know nothing much,” said Paul D, tucking his pouch back into his vest pocket, “but they do know a suckling can’t be away from its mother for long.” “Then they know what it’s like to send your children off when your breast are full.” “We was talking ‘bout a tree, Sethe.” “After I left you, those boys came in there and took my milk. That’s what they came in there for. Held me down and took it. I told Mrs. Garner on em. She had that lump and couldn’t speak but her eyes rolled out tears. Them boys found out I told on em. Schoolteacher made one open up my back and when it closed it made a tree. It grows there still.” “They used cowhide on you?” “And they took my milk.” “They beat you and you was pregnant?” “And they took my milk!”

I believe this passage is stating that Sethe was pregnant with Denver at the plantation, Sweet Home, but as a slave the children that she bore did not belong to her. Earlier in the text, it states that her other children, Howard and Buglar, were taken away, so I believe the plantation owners did not want Sethe to wean her child less there be any mother and child bond. The children that Sethe bore was just another piece of property to Sweet Home owners that can be used in the fields of that plantation. Therefore, the plantation owners stole Sethe’s milk, so that she did not get attached to her child.   Furthermore, in the process of stealing Sethe’s milk, the plantation owners “open up her back” or broke the skin of her back by whipping her with cowhide. With the whippings that she received, her wounds eventually gave a scar that looked like a tree.

This scene was a reality to many blacks during the times of slavery in America (1600-1800’s). Slaves that had masters (plantation owners) were physically and emotionally branded and debased by the whippings of their owner. Also, if you look at a picture of a slave’s back after they got whipped, the scars looks liked a tree growing on their back. This scene also reminds me of the film, Glory. In, Glory, Private Trip, Denzel Washington, is accused of deserting his company, so, his superior officer, who is white, flogs him. In that scene, when you look at Private Trips back you can see the “tree” or scars from the many whippings he has endured as a slave. Furthermore, in Glory, the setting of the story is in the late 1800’s during the time of the civil war. So, maybe Beloved was also in that time period or earlier than the civil war.